Producers Jeff Sackman and Michael Baker today announced that they will remake the horror classic Shivers, David Cronenberg’s first feature film. That film, highlighted with a special screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, broke ground with its boundary-pushing sexuality and violence in its original release, nearly 40 years ago.
Shivers will be directed by award-winning Danish filmmaker Rie Rasmussen from a screenplay written by Ian Driscoll. Sackman and Baker will produce through their respective companies, TAJJ Media and Bunk 11 Pictures. Working with them as executive producer is the film’s original executive producer, André Link. Shivers will begin shooting in February 2014, with casting currently underway.
In Shivers, a genetically-engineered strain of parasites that turn people into violent, compulsive sex-addicts is released into a self-contained luxury apartment complex. The resident doctor attempts to find a cure before the infected, nymphomaniac inhabitants spread their legs – and the parasites.
The new Shivers will be updated for today’s social and sexual realities. In a post-HIV world, where people interact through screens rather than skin, the parasite breaks down those digital barriers. This is a world that is both more liberated than that of 1975, and more fearful and uptight.
Written and directed by Cronenberg, the original Shivers, produced by Ivan Reitman with Andre Link and John Dunning as executive producers, was known in some countries as They Came From Within.
Rasmussen’s debut feature, Human Zoo, premiered opening night of the 2009 Berlin Film Festival Panorama. Her short films include Il Vestito and Thinning The Herd, the latter of which screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. “I’m Scandinavian and am very comfortable with sexual expression as a part of a healthy, modern-day reality, and I’ve always loved the underlying social messages in a well-made horror film,” said Rasmussen. “The opportunity to reinterpret this film from today’s point of view, adding my own female intuition and life experience was a temptation I couldn’t resist.”
Rasmussen is working with her mentor Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino has been a big supporter of Rasmussen’s since her debut short film Thinning the Herd, which was in Cannes the same year Tarantino was head of the festival’s jury. With respect to Shivers he says, “Rie is a perfect choice to helm the remake of Shivers.”
Screenwriter Ian Driscoll is the writer of cult favorites Smash Cut starring Sasha Grey, Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace, and Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival. Driscoll, owner of a repertory movie theatre that often plays horror films, is a long-time fan of the original. “It’s full of challenging, creepy, original ideas. It’s smart, surprising and unpredictable. If we can do the same thing, this can be another classic for a new generation.”
Producer Sackman is equally excited. “This is an opportunity to bring Shivers to audiences in our current era and reminds me of cutting-edge films I’ve had the opportunity to work on previously, including American Psycho, Buffalo 66 and Young People Fucking. We are also in a time of movie-going that thrives on edgy horror films and we plan on pushing the boundaries with Shivers.